With the rising amount of data and the ever-growing importance of analyzing it, a career in Network and Computer Systems Administration is very promising. To be on the receiving end of growing salaries and new opportunities, you need to excel in certain key characteristics and skills.
The Future of Systems Administration
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most Network and Computer Systems Administrators earned an annual pay of close to $70,000 per year as of May 2010.
This, however, ranges widely, with the top 10 percent earning more than $108,000. Conversely, the bottom 10 percent earns more than $42,000.
An admin can work in just about any industry dealing with physical servers and networks located within the business or organizations’ premises. As of 2010, nine in every 10 administrators work full time. If you want a lucrative career as a network and computer systems administrator, try to get a job working in computer systems design and similar fields. Administrators in this sector earn a median salary of $74,230.
Most administrators working for the finance and insurance industry earn $72,660 per year. Next are in the manufacturing and in the health care and social assistance industries, where most administrators earn around $68,000 and $65,000, respectively.
This only goes to show that being an administrator is a very lucrative career. Even the interns are getting paid. But that’s not all there is to it.
The demand for network and computer systems administrators is expected to grow by as much as 28 percent by 2020. Compared to other occupations, that forecasted growth is faster than average. According to the BLS data, 443,800 jobs will open up for administrators by the year 2020.
This means that not only do IT professionals stand to earn more as an administrator, but they would also have better chances of landing and keeping their jobs. Next let’s take a look at what makes an excellent IT administrator.
Qualifications for network and computer sys admins
A network and computer sys admin creates, installs and maintains the computer networks of a company or organization. He or she is the one who designs a computer network for a company to see what its requirements are and then proceeds to set it up, installs all hardware and software needed, and oversees upgrades and repairs.
A sys admin is also tasked with the security of the network and provides support for its users. He or she collects the data needed to evaluate the network, and decides what should be added to it or what should be modified for it to work faster and better. That’s on top of managing the servers, and making sure everything ranging from storage to e-mail services are working properly.
To enter the field, you need at least a bachelor’s degree related to information science or computer science, or a degree in electrical or computer engineering to act as a springboard for a career network and systems administration.
Don’t stop with degrees, though. You’ll need to continue learning because emerging technology is very dynamic and is always changing. Anticipate these changes by investing in formal courses, certifications and possibly a master’s degree.
Certifications for professionals in this field are often provided by software firms and software/hardware vendors. With your job in mind, you would need to be certified in the product or platforms that you use. For example, if you are using Linux at work, you should consider Red Hat Certified Engineer.
Conversely, Microsoft systems administrators would need to have both the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). MCSE replaces the older MCITP, while MCSA is the current certification that takes the place of the MCTS.
If your organization is using Novell Products, then you should get a Certified Novell Administrator or Certified Novell Engineer certifications. Other certifications you should look into include:
- CompTIA A+ and Network+
- Cisco CCNA (Certified Network Associate)
- Cisco CCENT (Certified Entry Networking Technician)
- Sun Certified Network Administrator
- Linux Professional Institute certifications
This is not a complete list, but it does include the most important IT certifications.
3. Qualities and characteristics
Aside from the education and certifications, you would also need to possess the following personality traits and skills in order to succeed in this job:
- Analytical skills: From designing to evaluating the performance of the network and the systems, an administrator needs the ability to process a lot of information from different sources.
- People skills: A network and computer systems administrator interacts with people from all levels of the organization. From the higher levels of management right down to the individual user, an administrator needs to describe the problem, and explain the solutions.
- Technical know-how: Administrators have to work with different kinds of computers and network equipment, so they should be familiar with how to run these, both as standalone appliances and as part of a bigger network. Here’s a quick overview of basic networking hardware.
- Quick thinking An administrator must be very responsive and must be able to quickly come up with solutions to every problem that pops up. This is because the network is a vital part of business operations and any delay or downtime will be detrimental to the enterprise.
- Ability to multi-task Administrators often deal with different kinds of problems on top of what they usually do. You must be able to handle the pressure of attending to different tasks all at the same time.
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